LAOS PRE-DEPARTURE INFROMATION

Peaceful, land-locked Laos is one of Southeast Asia’s hidden gems. Mostly undeveloped and with a fascinating Buddhist culture – most evident in the UNESCO world heritage town of Luang Prabang – Laos is the best enjoyed when visitors adapt to Lao-time. That is to slow down and take the time to soak in the atmosphere of this special part of the world. We wish you a memorial trip in Laos, and offer the below information to help you prepare.

VISA INFORMATION

All nationalities with exception of some Asian countries must have a tourist visa to enter Laos. You may apply for a visa through a Laotian embassy or consulate in your country. You are required to submit an application form with 2 passport-size photos, your passport and fee to process the visa. If you do not want to send off your passport or need your passport for your current travel, you can obtain a Visa-on-Arrival at international airports/ borders. (There are several countries in Africa and Middle East who cannot obtain Visa-on-Arrival. Also, Turkish nationals cannot obtain Visa-on-Arrival. Please check with your local embassy for the latest information).

The Visa fee for most nationalities is US$35 per person for Visa-on-Arrival (though some countries such as Canada are as high as US$42). Please note an additional service fee of US$1 will be added to each visa. Bring payment in US Dollars and 1 passport photo and allow an extra US$1 if you do not have a passport photo. Please be aware that sometimes there can be long queues at the airport when obtaining a Visa-on-Arrival.

Please make sure your passport is valid more than 6 months from the date of departure of each country you are visiting. Also, make sure you have enough blank pages – you may need up to 1.5 pages for each country you visit in Southeast Asia.

Please keep a copy of your completed Departure Immigration form as you will need to present it at Immigration upon departure from Laos.

TRIP & TRAVEL INSURANCE

It is compulsory to have comprehensive travel insurance whilst traveling in Laos. Comprehensive travel insurance, may cover you for unforeseen circumstances prior to departure should you be forced to cancel. Comprehensive travel insurance should cover you for emergency and medical evacuation, hospital fees, property loss, etc.

HEALTH

Please consult your doctor to discuss your particular health or immunization requirements. If you would like to have a source of further information, please refer to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website at www.cdc.gov.

AIRLINES

  • Domestic Airline:

Lao Ariline serves the domestic routes and connects the capital city Vientiane to major destinations in the country. They use either ATR 72-200 (70 seats) or MA 60 (56 seats) or A320 (150 seats) on certain domestic and international routes.

  • Seat Assignment

Seat assignment (reserving specific seats such as a window seat or a seat with more space for the legs, etc.) is not possible in advance as the airlines does not allow it. The best way to secure a set of your choice is to arrive at the airport early and request our tour guides directly to assist during the check-in process, check in desk opens two hours prior to flight departure time.

  • Airport Security

Please be aware that our courtesy check in service is now limited due to the current world security climate. You must have an airline ticket to enter the check-in terminal. Some airport will stipulate that you must check-in your own bags. We thank you for your understanding on this matter.

  • Luggage allowance

Each airline has its own luggage allowance policy, with most allowing 20kg checked baggage and 5kg carry-on. Excess baggage is charged at a specific rate depending on the route and airline.

LAOS AIRLINES (no business class is available)

Checked baggage – 20kg (44 lbs.)

Cabin baggage – 5kg (11 lbs.)

Excess baggage charge: US$ 5 per kg for both domestic & international flights

Limited size: the three dimensions of your checked luggage is not over 150 cm3 (58.5 in3)

BANGKOK AIRWAYS (no business class is available)

Checked baggage – 20kg (44 lbs.)

Cabin baggage – 5kg (11 lbs)

Excess baggage charge: US$3- 5 per kg for both domestic & international flights

Limited size: the three dimensions of your checked luggage is not over 150 cm3 (58.5 in3)

VIETNAM AIRLINES ( no business class available for flights operating from Laos on VN airlines)

Checked baggage – 20kg (44 lbs)

Cabin baggage – 5kg (11 lbs)

Excess baggage charge: at US$ 3-5 per kg

Limited size: the three dimensions of your checked luggage is not over 150 cm3 (58.5 in3)

MONEY

The Laotian currency, the Kip, exchanges at a rate of about 8,000 – 8,100 Kip to the US Dollar. However, the US Dollar is also widely accepted. Bring new, clean US Dollars and small denominations (US$1 and US$5) which are useful for making local purchases.

Cashing traveler’s cheque is not possible anymore in Laos. ATMs are now available in main towns and are widespread in Vientain and Luang Prabang. They will only issue the local currency, the Kip. nMany banks (open Monday to Friday) issue cash advances for Visa and MasterCard, usually for a small commission.

TIPPING

Tipping is not compulsory but it is greatly appreciated throughout Southeast Asia, especially in the service industry. For reference, we have provided a general guidelien below.

Tour guide/ Driver

If you are pleased with the services provied by your tour guide and driver, the a tip for their hard work will be very much appreciated. In general, we recommed around US$10-20/day for guide and US$5-10/day for driver if less than 4 people in a group. We recommend around US$15-25/day for guide and US$10-15/day for driver if there are 5 people or more.

Hotel and Restaurant staff

A tipping of 5-10% of the bill in restaurant is appreciated. If you stay a couple days in the same hotel, a tip to the maid service of 1-2$/day is appreciated.

Boat Cruise

If you travel on a local basic boat such as in the Mekong River day trip, a suggested tip from US$5-10 per boat is appreciated – more or less depending on the group size and the trip’s duration. For an overnight boat trip such as on board Luang Say or the other overnight boats, the suggestion is $5 – $10 per person/night to cover all the boat crew.

SHOPPING & SHIPPING

If you choose to ship items home, we highly recommend that you buy shipping insurance and check the policy details. As shops are not responsible for damages incurred en rout, it is better to be safe and sorry.